domenica, agosto 21, 2005

L'estate piovosa, Popper e gli ambientalisti

Si sa come funziona. Se l'estate è torrida la colpa è dell'effetto serra, cioè dell'uomo. Se piove troppo la colpa è di qualche reazione "naturale" all'effetto serra, cioè dell'uomo. Sempre colpa nostra. E vai col protocollo di Kyoto e altri mantra neoluddisti, che il mainstream della stampa italiana, che si potrebbe definire liberal se non fosse semplicemente ignorante, ricicla disinvoltamente come fa con tutti i luoghi comuni progressisti. Facili entusiasmi e ideologie alla moda, che fanno a pugni con la logica e con la scienza. Ha spiegato bene tutto Peter Huber in Hard Green - Saving the environment from the environmentalist. A Conservative manifesto. Il quale, nel fare a pezzetti il principio di precauzione (la giustificazione pseudo-scientifica degli ambientalisti antimoderni e anticapitalistici alla loro pretesa di mettere al bando ogni oggetto tecnologicamente più evoluto di una lampadina a incandescenza), fa una bella citazione di Karl Popper, che ci sta come la panna sui profiteroles. La traduzione non serve, vero?
«Caution is a perfectly sensible attitude to cultivate, even without tarting it up in the makeup of pseudo-science. But you can't wring much useful policy out of it. The geophysical environment stores and cycles thousands of different atoms and molecules. The biological environment, millions more, including those produced by things like salmonella, which has its own views of what is "cautious." Each of the countless millions of species on Earth is defined by its own unique chemistry. Humans selves are biochemically differentiated by sex, age, and ethnic group. Every biochemical on Earth can react well, badly, or not at all with every other, and with the eighty thousand synthetic chemicals in common commercial use. There are trillions of possible interactions. That does not mean we should simply ignore the possible toxic effects of chlorine in our drinking water. It does mean that trying to pluck policy out of the depths of a Precautionary Principle is a waste of time.
And calling it a Precautionary Principle to imply some serious science behind is an outright fraud. Big-future theories are never scientific. Karl Popper fingered Marxism and Freudian psychology as two paradigmatic examples of claims dressed up as "science" that were not in fact "falsifiable." Proponents of these views could find confirmation in everything and refutation in nothing. "A Marxist could not open a newspaper with­out finding on every page confirming evidence for his interpretation of history; not only in the news, but also in its presentation - which revealed the class bias of the paper - and especially of course in what the paper did not say." To be scientific a theory must make predictions concrete enough to be proved wrong if the claim is not in fact true. Very little indeed in the intellectual arsenal of the Soft Green meets that requirement. Science breaks down when the scenarios get too long, when the search reaches too far into the depths of time and statistical mist.
For the Soft Green, however, this is often the best possible outcome. All the trappings of science remain, to keep the business solemn and public respect high. But little if any of the discipline. In the end, the Soft Green just conjures up demons wherever he likes, and gets on with exorcising them. The process is dressed up as science, but it is irreducibly po­litical. It is politics by other means. It is a system perfectly designed to fund and grow the critical establishment, the legions of academics and bureaucrats whose occupation it is to imagine, worry, and prescribe».